Decades after we visited the Thunderdome the character of Mad Max has returned to the big screen. Tom Hardy has taken on the mantle of the Max Rockatansky but the role of director has remained unchanged as George Miller returned at the tender age of 70. In this incarnation Max has been captured by the semi-divine Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who through his control of natural resources has established a religious cult and made the local populous dependent upon him.
Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes advantage of a fuel run to escape into the desert with Immortan Joe’s hareem in search of a her homeland. What follows is a two hour car chase with a few breathers to introduce a little more plot. At the core of the film is a battle between the Patriarchy of Immortan Joe and the Matriarchy of the strong female characters who populate Mad Max: Fury Road. I almost gave away a spoiler there but I reigned myself in. There is a little more subtlety to the story than that as with the character of Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who is a member of the religious cult, a War Boy, who goes on something of a journey of discovery through the film.
The thing that impressed me the most about this film, and if you’ve read enough of my reviews this will come as no surprise, was the world that Miller created. If you can sell me on that I’ll forgive a lot. I would happily rank this world alongside anything that James Cameron has been able to create. As crazy as everything looks it makes sense within the confines of the screen. I’m going to start sounding like an old man now as I heap praise upon the use of stunt men (and ladies) and real physical effects. It’s only when you see real cars being flipped over that you notice how much of an improvement it is over CGI.
The star of the film is Theron whose character has found a way to thrive in this world yet hold onto her humanity and compassion. Despite being torn from the world she knew she hasn’t let the hate overtake her and ultimately channels it into something positive. The Max character begins in a semi-feral state using gestures and grunts to communicate and it is only as he spends more time with Furiosa and her female posse that he starts to open up (a bit).
Putting on my critical cap the argument can be made that as bold and as brilliant as the action is the plot is foisted into position during convenient pauses in the insanity. There is also a slightly odd decision made that sets up the final act but the film just about explains it away and then the action kicks in again and all is forgiven. I didn’t love this film quite as much as others have but bloody hell it’s great to see a proper action movie again. It’s not for everyone – my wife didn’t buy into the world and her one-word review was “stupid”. Not an opinion I hold but I understand those who share that viewpoint. I’m going positive, my rating 4/5. What a lovely day!